A federal jury yesterday reached verdicts on half of the charges against former State Department official Walter Reed Martindale III, who is accused in an alleged plot to assassinate a Saudi sheik, but it asked to continue deliberating additional charges before revealing its decisions.
Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. yesterday ordered the nine men and three women jurors to resume deliberations in U.S. District Court in Alexandria this morning on the charges, which stem from Martindale's arrest in London a year ago for bringing a Uzi semiautomatic rifle into Gatwick Airport.
In a 16-page indictment handed down in July, federal prosecutors charged that the Northern Virginia resident had shipped the gun illegally through National Airport and into London as part of a murder-for-hire plot. Mohammed Fassi, a Saudi sheik known around the world for flamboyant spending, was cited in court papers as the target of the alleged plot.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Williams yesterday said that the target may have been an elder member of the Fassi family or any of a number of members. "We're taking the broader view that it was the family in general," Williams said.
Defense attorney Thomas Burch characterized the jury's work yesterday as a good sign. "There's no way 12 people could reach an agreement that Martindale is guilty that quickly," he said.
The case went to the jury yesterday afternoon after three days of testimony during which defense attorneys portrayed Martindale as a humanitarian and a loyal career government servant. In closing arguments, defense attorney Paul R. Kramer said the government's case against Martindale is based on an "Alice in Wonderland theory."
Williams told jurors that, based on the evidence, Martindale's plea of innocence "is preposterous."